Signs Your Furnace Is Getting Too Old

Part of a furnace heats up a home.

If your furnace looks like something Ned Stark from Game of Thrones would want to cuddle up to on a cold winter’s night, then it might be time to get a new one. Unfortunately, knowing when your furnace is getting a little long in the tooth isn’t so easy for most of us. The last thing anyone wants is to hear that awful thunk or see smoke billowing from their vents during the coldest day of the year.

Furnaces can work reliably for 20 or 30 years, but just like grandpa, it will eventually show signs that it’s not in its prime.

Energy Efficiency

Gas and electricity prices fluctuate from year to year, but as your furnace ages its ability to efficiently use the energy decreases. Your gas and electric bills will increase because the furnace stays on longer to heat your home. It takes longer to get to the set temperature than when it was in the prime of its life.

Nickel and Dime Repairs

When I turned 16, I got a used Ford Thunderbird. It was the most awesome car in the world, but 10 years later it was in the repair shop every other week. The alternator went bad, then the water pump and fuel pump. The last straw was when it needed a completely new braking system. The car was nickel-and-diming me to death until it got to the point where it wasn’t functional, and it was logical to simply buy a new one.

An aging furnace can act the same way. You’ll notice small repairs at first, but as time goes by, they just get worse and worse. Your furnace will begin showing its age when it needs frequent repairs. This is especially true if it hasn’t had proper routine maintenance through the years.

The Wail of the Banshee and Other Sounds

I knew my furnace was getting old when the normally quiet fan began making a high pitched squealing noise every time it kicked on. It started out barely audible, but as the months went by it got worse and worse until the furnace finally died. Furnaces don’t have bones, but that doesn’t mean they can’t creak and crack. If your furnace makes knocking noises, rattles or pops, then it’s getting towards the end of its life span.

Deadly Consequences

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer that can become a problem in older furnaces as they begin leaking the deadly gas. If the flame of your furnace is yellow or flickering instead of a constant blue, then that’s a tell-tale sign of a possible carbon monoxide problem. You may also see soot near the furnace and excessive condensation on cold surfaces such as pipes and windows.

Getting a new furnace can be a daunting expense and one that people like to hold off on until absolutely necessary. You’ll ignore the signs of your aging furnace or keep saying you’ll take care of it next week or next month. But if an elderly relative came to you complaining of chest pains or other ailments, then you wouldn’t hesitate to tell them to go to a doctor. Don’t ignore the signs of an aging furnace or you could end up paying outrageous prices for an emergency service.